The best thing the NFL has going for it is football. People want to watch football, and people really want to watch the best-known teams.
Sunday afternoon's Dallas-New England game, a dramatic back-and-forth overtime affair, averaged a 12.1 rating and 23.22 million viewers, which was CBS's most-watched October telecast since 2015. The broadcast slightly topped last year's Packers-Buccaneers game on Fox. That game was broadcast to the entire country, while Cowboys-Patriots went to 80 percent of the nation.
That's an impressive total, but it still doesn't match 2019's matchup, when Tom Brady was still with the Patriots. That game drew a 16.5 rating and 29.47 million viewers.
Other time slots weren't quite as successful but still a net gain for the NFL:
• CBS's early-Sunday London game between Miami and Jacksonville recorded a 4.1 rating and 7 million viewers — 7 million on a Sunday morning — which made it the best-performing London game since 2016. (As Sports Media Watch notes, this was only the third London game on broadcast TV during that timespan.)
• The early window of games didn't perform particularly well, with Kansas City-Washington / Chargers-Ravens finishing at a 6.9 rating and 12.41 million, up 2 and 3 percent over 2020 respectively. Numbers are not yet available for Fox's Packers-Bears game.
• Sunday Night Football didn't have a particularly compelling matchup in Steelers-Seahawks, and the results showed it, with a 9.0 rating and 16.28 million, both season lows for NBC. Even so, those numbers were up from both 2019 and 2020.
• Monday Night Football's Bills-Titans game totaled 12.53 million, up from last year's Cardinals-Cowboys game but down from 2019's Lions-Packers.
Overall, every time slot saw increases over 2020, further indication that the NFL is leaving the rugged pandemic year behind.
Sources: Sports Media Watch, network PR
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him at email@example.com.